By Alexander Villafania
DAPITAN CITY, ZAMBOANGA DEL NORTE – Despite being a huge prison for him, Dapitan City became Dr. Jose Rizal’s second home where he spent the last days of his life.
The city is celebrating the national hero's 150th year of his birth anniversary. Tourists and visitors to Dapitan City are given free tours to the Rizal Shrine in Talisay.
A museum that houses many of the items and artifacts of the days of Rizal’s stay can be visited within the shrine. Among these are the clothes that he wore, his teaching implements, and even many of his art pieces.
This part of Talisay was once a small segment of mountainside naturally etched by the sea. It was here that Rizal cut a little nook for himself as he stayed for four years.
As part of preservation efforts, Dapitan rebuilt most of the structures that Rizal built during his stay. Some of the small huts that Rizal lived were recreated, down to the material that was used. Rizal built a small clinic, a kitchen, a classroom for his students, a dormitory, and even a toilet.
One of the most well preserved places in the Rizal Shrine is a dam that Rizal built with his students. Despite being an experiment, the dam provided irrigation for Rizal’s small farm.
One of the larger huts became a temporary home of Rizal and Josephine Bracken, the daughter of an Irish corporal for the British Army.
Because the Catholic Church at that time would not allow Rizal and Bracken to be married, the two decided to hold their own “wedding” on top of a huge rock, now called
“Mi Retiro” as it was the very spot where Rizal wrote his love poem to Bracken, ostensibly titled “Mi Retiro.”It has now become a favorite for daytime visitors of the shrine.
Near the edge of the Mi Retiro rock is the dock where Rizal’s final steps in Dapitan before he was ferried to a ship that carried him back to Manila, where he would meet his demise.
With Rizal’s departure, Dapitan was remarkably changed as one of the most historically significant places in the Philippines. With the Philippines celebrating the 150th anniversary of his birthday, Dapitan City comes alive.
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